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From Amidst The Darkness
~ * Chapter One * ~
Life is like an ocean. Sometimes the sea of life is calm, sometimes rough; the great swell of time and tide both kind and unkind; smooth, never ending plains turn into towering, crashing storms; wreckage and ruin; prosperity and treasure. And as every good sailor knows, even the most time hardened seafarer is never truly safe from the wild, unpredictability of their beloved, cruel mistress.
"They found her where? Now, wait a second, speak slower—just off the shore where? Well now—is she stable? Yes, yes I am coming as fast as I can, but is she stable for now?" Poseidon snapped impatiently, gripping the wheel tightly. It was hard enough to drive in rush hour traffic without trying to decipher this idiot's babble.
Poseidon Olympian, world-renowned marine biologist and proud owner of the finest aquarium north of Georgia (yes, thank you Zeus, must you always bring that up?), had been away at a conference in London for the last five days and was forced to leave his most inept underling—an intern by the name of Samuel Dane—in charge of his beloved aquarium. It was turning out to be a greater nightmare than he ever imagined. A wounded manatee calf arrived some time in the last hour (Poseidon was renowned for his expert care of wounded sea-animals, even more so than any of the biologists working for Georgia's aquarium so take that) but he was still at least two hours away. The poor creature would have been better off at a different aquarium today.
"Just keep her stable until I arrive!" Poseidon snapped over Dane's babbling, "I am coming as quickly as I—" beep beep "—damn it Dane hold on I have an incoming call." Poseidon quickly disconnected from the frantic intern and took his incoming call, relieved to be free of the idiot. He wished he had a free hand to rub his temple—he was developing a bad headache.
"Poseidon?" The calm voice of his favorite sister was music to his ears.
"Hestia," he greeting, feeling some of the tension leave his body.
"You were supposed to call when your plane landed," his sister chastised lightly, the soft buzz of children laughing barely audible in the background, "but I take it everything went fine."
"Oh yes, sorry," he apologized, "got a little caught up." He cursed and honked as the car in front of him came to an abrupt stop. "Traffic's terrible and a wounded manatee was brought in with no one around other than Dane."
His sister clicked her tongue sympathetically, even though she had no idea who Dane was. "I'm sure he'll keep it under control until you arrive," she soothed.
"He better," Poseidon growled, gripping the wheel tightly.
"Drive safely," Hestia reminded him, to which he grumbled but assured her he would, and always did.
"Uh-huh," she said dubiously. A childish shriek of laughter cut across the phone and Hestia called something after her exuberant charges while Poseidon grimaced. His headache was bad enough without children, thank you very much. "Well I best be off, I just wanted to make sure you landed safely—oh but one more thing. Ares' birthday is in three weeks Poseidon, do try to be there."
"Oh yes, I wouldn't miss it for the world," he huffed, rolling his eyes.
"I'll try my best," he told her, if only to placate his favorite sister, "but no promises."
Hestia sighed, but let it go, "Alright. Drive safe, good luck with the calf."
"Thank you," Poseidon said and listened as the line clicked off. He let his phone fall from his ear and onto his lap without bothering to call Dane back. It would only distract the idiot. He prayed the calf was strong enough to survive until he arrived. He looked ahead at the inching traffic and sighed. It was going to be a long day.
And indeed it was. Poseidon pulled into his driveway eight hours later, utterly exhausted. The little manatee was stable—at least for the night. He left Dane explicit instructions and told the idiot to call him with any changes. He sat in his car for a few moments, closing his eyes and relaxing for the first time since the plane ride. His back ached, his feet were sore, and all he really wanted to do was go to bed. Finally he roused himself enough to stumble out of the car. He left his luggage in the trunk—he would get it tomorrow—and made his way up the drive to the porch.
To his immense surprise, he found somebody waiting for him.
A man was sitting on his steps, looking for all the world like he belonged there. He wore a moderate suit, had an unassuming haircut and a forgettable face, and held a worn suitcase at his side. He smiled wearily when he saw Poseidon and stood up, wobbling slightly.
"Hello Mr. Poseidon Olympian, I was beginning to worry you'd never show up," the stranger said, extending a hand.
"And just who are you?" Poseidon demanded, shocked and irritated to find someone between him and his nice warm bed.
"Oh yes, sorry, how terribly rude of me—I suppose you wouldn't have gotten my messages being away and all. I'm John Mayer, Sally Jackson's lawyer."
After his long tiring day, dealing with idiotic interns and a critically injured calf, Poseidon was running on fumes and little else, so he simply stared blankly at the man. If his brain were functioning at its normal capacity, he would have berated the stranger for camping out on his porch without Poseidon's consent and forcibly removed the man from his yard. As it was, Poseidon simply frowned. Sally Jackson, the name was familiar but his mind was working too sluggishly for him to make a connection.
"Look Mayer, I've had a hard day, I'm exhausted and probably still a little jet lagged."
"Ah, yes, of course, I'm sorry. Shall we go inside and sit down?" The lawyer suggested.
When Poseidon opened his mouth to protest—just who the hell did this man think he was, inviting himself into Poseidon's home—Mayer looked him squarely in the eye, a look of such complete seriousness on his face that Poseidon stopped his objections and listen, interested. "It is very important and I'm afraid I have tarried too long. May we?"
He gestured towards the house. Intrigued, Poseidon acquiesced; he sighed loudly, making sure the man knew perfectly well how put upon and displeased he felt but nodded before stepping forward to unlock the door. He stepped in and turned on the light, beckoning for Mayer to follow. He could see Mayer start when he entered the house, his eyes growing wide as they appreciated the interior.
"You have a large and beautiful home," Mayer said, following Poseidon into to the kitchen.
"Yes, thank you," Poseidon said distractedly, sitting down at the table and looking expectantly at the lawyer, "now, what is so important you decided to camp on my doorstep for?"
Mayer hesitated, taking his time to sit down, which irritated Poseidon. His curiosity could only tamper his temper so much.
"Well?" He snapped, "Do not toy with me, Mayer. I will not take it kindly if you're pulling my leg. You said you had waited too long?"
"Yes too long, far too long. But, in my defense, I was not informed until two months ago . . ." Mayer muttered, putting his suitcase on the table. "Do you remember Sally Jackson?"
Mayer fidgeted with the edge of the suitcase, looking far less sure of himself now than he had been outside as he peered over at the biologist.
Poseidon paused and thought. The name was very familiar. It reminded him of light and kindness and the color blue, of all things. He turned his head, the motion of the ocean just beyond his window catching his attention . . . and then he remembered—Sally Jackson was the woman who saved his life, a bright light in the darkest moment of his life. His wife, Amphitrite, died earlier that year in childbirth. He was at work when the call came in that she went into labor and he rushed to the hospital, but he was too late. The loss of both his wife and child devastated him. Words could not even begin to describe his despair.
And that's when Sally came in. He met her a few months after the incident, just around Christmas. She pulled him back from the brink of despair with her loving eyes and kind words. He smiled, remembering the short time they spent together. She was a student on Christmas break and when the season ended she went back to school and he got a job as an intern to a well-respected marine biologist. They exchanged phone numbers but did not stay in touch.
"Yes, I remember," Poseidon replied softly, smiling at the table. Then he frowned, "why has Sally sent her lawyer to talk to me?"
"Well…Sally didn't send me," Mayer muttered, shifting uncomfortably. "Sally Jackson's dead."
Poseidon leaned back, startled. Dead? Well, that was unexpected. Sally was a great person and sure it was sad she was dead, there was one less kind person in a world that was too short on them, but he did not understand why her lawyer was in his kitchen.
"Oh . . ." Poseidon said, unsure of what else to say. As sad as it was he hadn't really known Sally all that well, and hadn't been in contact with her for almost fourteen years. "Why are you here then?"
"Her will," Mayer said, and produced a paper from his suitcase. Instead of handing it over, however, he kept the paper close to him, pulled against his chest as he hesitated.
"She . . . left me something?" Poseidon asked, eyeing the paper in confusion.
"Oh yes, she left you something alright," Mayer muttered. He shook his head and looked back up at Poseidon. "Sally died last year, in a car accident."
"Last year?" Poseidon repeated, frowning and eyeing Mayer suspiciously now, "why did it take you so long to get around to me?"
"Ah, you see, I've been out of the country for a while and when I got back I thought all of her things had been wrapped up. But it seems they read the wrong will. She didn't change much in her last will, only one thing. A letter for, ah, Poseidon Olympian."
"That would be me," Poseidon said, annoyed at the man's continued vagueness.
"Here," Mayer said, shoving the paper at him. Poseidon took the document, still eyeing the lawyer suspiciously as he turned it over.
It was a short letter:
I don't know how to start this letter, it seems so fanciful to me, like something out of a movie or a book. But this is very much real and I feel terrible, so wretchedly terrible. And I'm sorry, so, so sorry. Please believe me. I often thought of contacting you, of telling you, but I was too afraid. I don't know how to put this gently so I'll just come right out: we have a son.
His name is Perseus Jackson, but he likes to be called Percy. He looks like you. He's got your build, your black hair, and your deep green eyes. He's the most beautiful child. I cannot even begin to describe how much he means to me. He's my sunshine, my everything, my precious baby boy. And I'm so sorry I never told you.
I was so scared when I found out I was pregnant, but I couldn't make myself call you. You had just lost your wife and baby, just started to pick up the pieces of your broken life. You left on that exploration with your mentor in the Pacific when I got the test results. I couldn't call you. Maybe I should have as Percy got older, but I could never make myself do it. Perhaps I was afraid, or selfish because I always wanted him beside me.
If you're reading this then I'm dead and my Percy is alone. It wouldn't be so painful if only I knew he would be okay. I need him to be safe, and loved. Please, I know this may be too much too soon, but please try and be there for him. Please. You of all people know what it is like to be totally alone. Don't let our son feel that.
Always with the greatest love,
Poseidon stared at the letter. And stared. Finally, after a long while of simply staring at the letter, reading and re-reading every line to be sure he hadn't been mistaken, he looked up at Mayer.
"Here, I've got a picture of him," Mayer said, pulling a picture from the suitcase. He handed it to Poseidon, who hesitantly took it.
Poseidon started when he looked at the picture. The boy in the photograph was about thirteen or fourteen years old. He had Poseidon's hair, his build just as the letter said, but his eyes were covered up behind a pair of dark sunglasses. For a ludicrous moment, Poseidon almost thought he was looking at a childhood picture of himself until he noticed some very distinct differences. He was dressed simply, darkly, the boy in the picture. His hands were in his pockets and his shoulder slightly hunched, like he was trying to protect himself from a cold wind. But that's not what caught his attention; what caught his attention was the child's expression. It was blank, hard . . . alone.
"This is Percy, your son."
A/N If I've made anything unclear please let me know. Poseidon is a marine biologist, if that wasn't clear, a very rich and well-known one. This chapter is a little shorter because I had to split it up, but the others will be longer. I plan on about 15-20 chapters for this. Hope you enjoyed. (Yes, I know in the book Sally and Poseidon had their fling in the summer, but Percy's birthday is in August so it doesn't really match up. I don't know if Riordan realized this or not, but it is what it is.)